Mask Making Mania

  • Materials Used:
  • 2 pieces of 7″ x 9″ fabric
  • 1 strip of 1 to 1+1/2″ x 7″ fabric
  • 2 strips of stretched 1″ x 6″ T-shirt fabric
  • Optional: some type of filter and/or wire

Along with everyone else, I am making fabric masks. I am also making masks from special microbial fabric the hospital provided for them. The fabric masks will go to family, friends in need, and special places that need at least some form of protection. I looked at and tried a lot of different patterns, until I came up with something that works for ME. It may not work for you, and if that is the case maybe you can adapt it to work for you.

People are insisting these masks need some kind of wire to go over the bridge of the nose. I always tend to overthink things, and my first thought was… won’t they need to be washed after wearing them in public? What happens if you sew those wires into the mask? Won’t they rust? So, I created a sleeve, much like a sleeve to hang your quilt, over the bridge of the nose. I don’t have enough pieces of wire, pipe cleaners, or twist ties to sew into the mask anyhow, so a sleeve is what you get. Find your own wire.

Also, people are suggesting a place in or on the mask to add a hepa filter of sorts. So, I adapted for that as well. I made 2 different kinds of masks, the ones that do not have pleats but look like jock straps across your face and the ones with pleats. Don’t get me wrong. I am fine with the ones that look like jock straps. The other ones don’t take as long for me to make, and I made fewer mistakes with them… except for those darned pleats. I’ll get to those in a minute.

I start out with 2 pieces of 7″ x 9″ quilt shop quality and/or batik fabric. Most masks are using 6″ x 9″ pieces of fabric, but I can’t seem to get my pleats to work right so I just added an inch. They’re supposed to be under your chin and almost up to your eyeballs anyway.

This is where I accommodate the use of a filter. Using a 1/4″ seam allowance with right sides of the fabric facing each other, I sewed 3 inches on either end of one 9″ side and then sewed along either side of that seam to hold each side of the seam in place. See where the rotary cutter peeks through? That’s a slot for inserting a filter. You should have 3 inches sewn shut with a 3 inch hole for inserting the filter and then another 3 inches sewn shut on the other end.

Next, I sewed along the other 9″ side.

By this time, a lot of people are having trouble finding elastic, and are using elastic headbands, pony tail holders or are making fabric ties. As I experimented, I had problems with getting the elastic to fit around my ears correctly. Plus, it wasn’t very comfortable. I wanted to try the option of using T-shirt fabric, especially since I had some brand new T-shirts that need to go to the thrift shop (that is closed right now). So, I cut the sleeve of a T-shirt into 1 inch strips. If you stretch them, they will curl to a round shape. Cut those into 7 (corrected) 6 inch strips.

At this point, you are going to sew a 6″ T-shirt strip on the inside of either/both open sides. Make sure you have an edge of the strip sticking out in each corner and that the rest is tucked safely inside so that it doesn’t get caught while you are stitching.

So, now the mask is all enclosed and needs to be inverted. This is where that slot for the filter comes in handy. Turn it right side out through the hole and voila!

Next, I sewed that little wire sleeve at the bridge of the nose… along the opposite side of the filter “hole”. I cut about 1+1/4″ x 7″ strips for my sleeves. Some people may like it a little tighter so 1″ wide would work for them. And, some people probably need a little wider, so 1+1/2″ would be best for them. Find what works for you. This happened to work for me. There are a couple of ways to sew them on. First, you want to turn under each skinny end and sew those down and then you can either iron the long ends under about 1/4″ inch and sew down on top of those. OR, I found I like sewing an open side along the top edge and then sewing on top down the other side. I know I’m not explaining that well, and I apologize. In the picture of the black and white fabric, you can see the fabric is barely tucked under the top of the mask (on the back side). I sewed along there and then turned the mask over to sew along the other side. It gives a tad more wiggle room for the wire.

And, now we come to the part where I had the most trouble of all… making the pleats. Some directions I’ve seen give you precise measurements to use. Others tell you to make 3 pleats; that’s it, just make 3 pleats (of whatever size you like). I had masks that were longer on one side than the other and looking pretty sad. I just saw a trick this morning for which I do not have pictures. But, this person suggested folding your mask down the middle along the 9″ side and ironing a crease. Then open it up and fold both edges to that middle crease and iron creases there. That way you have 3 creases to guide you. I’m going to try that with my next mask, but I suspect I will end up having the same problems as before. So, my advice for you… just do the best you can. It’ll all work out okay.

Find your mask style and please stay healthy and happy.

*Note: this post has been corrected to reflect a correction. I wore a mask with 7″ elastic today, and it was not tight enough. But, if I get the elastic too tight, it pulls my ears forward and is uncomfortable. That was the reason I switched to T-shirt fabric. My recommendation is that, before you sew the T-shirt fabric or elastic in place, put the unfinished mask up to your face and gauge how long you think it should be for YOUR face to make it snug, but not uncomfortable. You need to be able to breathe but allow germs to float inside your mask.

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